Monday, March 27, 2017

Southwest Va. is the latest rural region to hear talk of secession from its state; 'a thought experiment'

The collapse of Central Appalachia's coal industry, and the state of Virginia's response to resulting problems with school funding, sparked an editorial in The Roanoke Times that began: "Here’s an idea: Should Southwest Virginia secede and form its own state? We don’t mean that seriously, of course. However, let’s explore it as a thought experiment."

The newspaper noted that groups of people in remote and/or rural regions of several other states have suggested secession, and that the school-funding crisis didn't push the state legislature to swing into action. "The only legislator from Southwest Virginia who serves on the House Appropriations Committee . . . came up with a new funding formula. Even then, the handful of legislators who worked out the final version of the budget changed things around so that two of the counties in far Southwest Virginia wound up with exactly zero dollars. Could that be because not a single legislator from Southwest Virginia was in the room when that happened? (Cue the 'Hamilton' musical and song in which Aaron Burr longs to be in 'The Room Where It Happened.') What if we just said 'Sorry, we’re tired of being your afterthought; we’re outta here'?"

The editorial acknowledged that secession would be a bad idea for Southwest Virginia, since the region "is subsidized by the rest of the state. Yes, yes, we think we’re ignored by Richmond and in a lot of ways we are. Still, the fiscal reality is that Northern Virginia really subsidizes the rest of Virginia. If there’s any part of the state that should secede for bottom-line reasons, it’s Northern Virginia. Let’s not encourage that."

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